New Year – First Dinner

I was going to entitle this “Breaking in the New Kitchen” but that would be technically wrong as I did host the Christmas breakfast with my family… My sister might disagree with who should have been first for last night’s feast but hey, things don’t always they way we plan, yanno?

Anyhoo, this evening was planned after we learned of our friend’s death on December 18th (post still not finished but will follow shortly). We suddenly felt the need to see each other; the funeral home not counting.

I swear I am the queen of start and not finish. 🙄 So, before I lose the feeling of last night, here I go. I started on Friday. Lucky for me, I was “liberated” from a job I loathe on Thursday, giving me all day Friday to cook (if that was how I chose to use my time).

I started things off by making the parsley-celery oil for the soup as well as the parsnip chips, inspired by my chef friend Janet, of The Simmering Chef’s recipe. Click here to get it. I was determined to use chicken thighs (skin on, bone in) that I had in my freezer so The Google was brought into service. I found Ina Garten’s Chicken Marbella. I got all the ingredients together and placed them in a bag to marinate all afternoon and overnight. If I hadn’t had my date night that included watching the oh-so-horrible-please-don’t-waste-your-time movie “The Poison Rose” (surprising cast: John Travolta, Morgan Freeman, Famke Janssen, Brendan Fraser), I might have actually made my soup AND my cake but no…

No matter! I was up and at ’em really early so, first things first, I baked the cake. I am so mad at myself as I had been making Soeur Angèle’s version of the Sachertore for eons (though it had been ages since I last made it) and could not find my copy of the recipe. I was positive I had kept that page, but no. Sigh. So onto The Google (again) I went. No luck. Her recipe is not to be found. So I keep my search up until I found one that sorta-kinda resembled what I remember of it by Lidia Bastianich, but made a few modifications.

As the cake baked, it was onto the Parsnip soup.

The “Mise”

As the soup simmered, I went out to shovel the walkway – not that there was much, but still, I took my time. Time to purée the soup and set it aside for warming up later.

I then went on to make my cheese bowls (Raclette and Grana Padano) that would hold my mesclun salad with Raspberry-Honey Vinaigrette. Every time I make these, I am amazed at the quantity of fat I need to wipe out of the frying pan!

Cake cooled and iced it was time to do a quick sweep and mop of the floors and take my shower.

Good grief! Who was this broad who was so organized that her hair would not still be dripping wet when her guests arrived? I didn’t recognize her! She even set the table and shucked the oysters and made mignonette!

Just before Giselle and Dany, then Julie and Michael arrived, I put the chicken into the oven. An hour to cook, fifteen minutes to rest and Bob’s your uncle. The tour of the remodel was given and, as we are wont to do, stood around the island. We noshed on oysters and drank bubbles while catching up. (And, just so you know, it’s not because I still have not received my sofa that we had to. Plus, I did bring up the stools that will be getting their own makeover soon!)

There is nothing I love more than cooking for people I love. We ate, we laughed, we sang an early happy birthday for Dany (two weeks early) and then, because I had changed the Spotify from 70’s acoustic to French crooners, we ended up doing a sort of karaoke with one of Aznavour’s songs – which, as I wrote about when he passed away, is completely IMPOSSIBLE to sing along to (hell, you can’t even read the lyrics fast enough!)

The meal:

Fun times. I’ve never had all the lights on in the house at once. Bloody hell it was bright. (Note to self… use the damn dimmers!)

P.S. I started this post, officially yesterday morning (as it’s close to 1 am now) whilst enjoying my raisin bread toast (courtesy of Giselle) followed by one of her delicious almond cookies (and she claims she’s not a baker!) I pressed publish before I realised I forgot to add these!


Do you remember when we called cancer the C-word?  The pandammit changed all that so that the new C-word is Covid or Corona or Calvaire (French swear word for misery) and goddammit-all-to-hell-we’re-fed-up-of-being-locked-up-and-not-being-able-to-see-friends Crap.

That said, while I have avoided whining about it or blogging about it, I’ve made mention in passing and since we are starting to see a sort of glow at the end of the tunnel… I don’t dare say more for fear of potentially jinxing anything – right. Like I have any kind of power of that sort!  Still. Why take unnecessary chances?

This past Thursday was our St-Jean-Baptiste holiday in Quebec.  I, for one, can become quite Québécoise by indulging in the old tunes I very much enjoyed do when I was a teenager (and still).  My eldest asked if he could have friends over on the Wednesday, as everyone was off on Thursday. Always such a cool mom, I said yes 😉

The evening was perfect and the kids all ended up on our roof to watch not one, not two, but four different fireworks.

After taking this picture of the “kids”, I simply turned towards the street, walked to the curb and was able to film this:

Sunday Gratitude – November 2, 2014

I was so busy doing nothing, I almost forgot it was Sunday! Seriously. After doing a bazillion dishes and making chicken stock and roasting my two Jack O’lanterns, I basically sat on my duff and watched movies all day. In my pyjamas. All day. No, not all day. I had to put on some pants to go pick up hubby from the hockey game in town as “They” closed the metro system from downtown Montreal to the South Shore. What up wit dat? I could have kept the PJs on but what if? So I didn’t!

Have a seat

Have a seat

Gratitude List

  1. Saturday was a nice crisp day that just begged for comfort food… so that’s what I made for our guests instead of some time-consuming, fancy-pants thing.

  2. I had my pyjama day today and it was wonderful.

  3. Zeke and I finally took a walk up in Mount-Royal, with some adventures (coming to a post near you….)

  4. I had my first job interview in over 18 years and it felt good – will keep you posted….

  5. There has been nice synergy in our household which is refreshing.

My Favourite Way to Spend a Saturday

One of my most favourite places to spend a Saturday is in my kitchen, cooking up a feast for guests!  I love the whole entertaining process: from shopping for ingredients, to setting the table,  to preparing the food, and of course, to serving it along with good wine.  It’s even better because hubby gets involved in parts of the process and we make a good team – he helps with the setup, usually does the wine shopping, keeps guests entertained while I’m finishing my plating,  and always does the dishes (not a small task, my friends, not a small task at all!)

So, we’ve invited some friends over – sometimes totally last minute, sometimes months in advance.  Now, I have to decide what the heck I’m going to make.  If my guests are “regulars”,  I know what they like and don’t like; if they are “new”, I ensure to find out ahead of time if there is anything they don’t like or can’t eat (because I do not like it when my food is not enjoyed)!  More importantly, there no way anyone is leaving my house after one of my meals, needing to stop off at McDonald’s on their way home ‘coz they’re hungry!

My kitchen TV is tuned to Food Network Canada (pretty much always) for inspiration and just because I love watching cooking shows like Chopped or Iron Chef America (and I frankly don’t care if it’s a repeat or not, I’ll re-watch it – as was the case this Saturday –  Robert Irvine and Cat Cora were competing against Michael Symon and Anne Burrell, who won) while I chop, dice, sautée….

Iron Chef America - Robert Irvine

Iron Chef America – Robert Irvine

There was a nice special on Frenched pork roast at one of our local grocery stores so that was the protein de choix for the evening.  Hubby suggested the menu should be comfort food as our guests were going through a rough time with a sick parent.  André loves my carrot-bacon soup so, though I don’t like to repeat, I did make that.  Tammy is a potato-holic so for sure garlic mashed potatoes were also on the menu.  Hmmm… what veg to go with?  I had some nice purple carrots so, tossed them à la Jamie Oliver with rosemary, garlic, olive oil, wine vinegar and salt & pepper and onto the heat they went to be roasted.

Carrot-bacon soup being blended

Carrot-bacon soup being blended

I cannot believe I forgot to take a picture of my beautiful roast. Dang!  I had a fabulous rosemary, pepper, fennel seed crust on it. 😦  Guess I’ll just have to remake it and take a picture for a future post!  I shouldn’t feel too bad, it does mean I was busy spending more time with my guests than with my camera….

I do enjoy making fancy desserts, but in this case, Mick asked for an apple crisp.  Who was I to say no?  And who doesn’t like cinnamony bubbling apples, covered in a nice oatmeal streusel, with a scoop of ice cream on top? Who?

Apple crisp ready for baking

Apple crisp ready for baking

The neighbour passed by with a case of beer, and when he found out we were having company over, tried to leave.  We told him it was way early yet, the guests wouldn’t arrive until 5:30-6:00 so really, no rush!  When the did show up, we told him to go get his wife and at least come back a glass of champagne!

While we were sipping said bubbles, I rearranged the table settings to add three people (their son was also invited, of course!)  They did try to protest but, with our irresistable charm, and the assurance of Tammy and André that they were more than welcome to crash, they relented and stayed – though Robert did insist on bringing some of his fabulous roasted peppers!

A good time was had by all and no one left with an empty belly!

The next day, looking in the recycling box, I understood why my head ached a bit…seemed like there were far too many empty bottles of wine in there!